USA Bucket List – 20 Unique Things You Can Only Do in America

Grand Canyon View From the South Rim USA Bucket List

There is so much to see in the United States that it can be hard to decide where to go next and what to choose. This USA bucket list has the most exciting and iconic places to visit and things to do in America. Whether this is your first trip to the US or if you are from the States, you will be able to experience the most amazing and unique things America has to offer. Some people say that the culture in the United States is very new and there are not as many unique things as there are in Europe, but it isn’t true. Each city has its history and culture and the best local cuisine that was formed by the people and the cultures immigrating to the region. Here are the top 20 things you must add to your American bucket list when you are planning your next vacation!

USA Bucket List – 20 Unique Places to Go and Things to Do in America

Watch a Broadway Show in New York City

When in New York, you should go to see a Broadway show. You might not be able to get seats to the Hamilton, the new story of one of America’s founding fathers interpreted through hip-hop. (My dream!) However, there are still the classics and Broadway truly can’t be beaten. Some of my favorites – The Lion King, Les Miserables, and Wicked – the classics you shouldn’t miss on your trip to the Big Apple. For more information about available tickets, go here.

Feel the Mist of Niagara Falls

Feel The Mist of Niagara Falls

I didn’t understand what that means until I stood and watched the water hit the rocks with incredible might and strength at the Niagara Falls. The force of the water is so energizing. Stand as close to the falls as you can (or take a ride on the Maid of the Mist) and feel the power, listen to the sound of the roaring water (and paint with the colors of the wind)!

There are a lot of fun things to do in Niagara Falls, so planning ahead will help you ensure that you get to see everything on your list. You might want to consider the Niagara USA Discovery Pass, you’ll get a discount on admission to popular park attractions. Niagara Falls has to be on your USA bucket list – more than six million feet of water cascading over a rocky crest is a view to remember!

Remember, it’s partially located in the United States and partially in Canada, so if you can, go to the Canadian part as well! This is a place you should experience at least once in your lifetime. But if you go once, you will probably come back again.

Gaze at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Discovered in 1870, the Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent eruptions, which is more than a million since it became the world’s first national park. Thermal features change constantly and Old Faithful may stop erupting someday. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. Its maximum height ranges from 90 to 184 feet. While it is not the biggest or the most regular geyser in Yellowstone, it is the biggest regular geyser. The view of the Old Faithful is truly amazing and Yellowstone should be in the top 5 of your American bucket list!

Visit the Alamo in San Antonio

San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in the United States with rich and amazing history. No visit to San Antonio, Texas is complete without a tour of the Alamo, site of the most important battle for the Republic of Texas. Visit Alamo to understand early Texas history and battle for Texas independence as well as Spanish architecture and artifacts. After you are done there, check out the Riverwalk and eat at one of the many great restaurants.

Related: Cheap US Airline Review for Your Bucket List

Attend the Mardi Gras Festival in New Orleans

New Orleans

Another city that has a very unique culture that you absolutely have to experience is New Orleans. The most exciting time to visit New Orleans is during the Carnival season and especially during the Mardi Gras Festival. But don’t worry if you go at another time, there’s always a party to be found in NOLA, from poky jazz bars to smoldering blues clubs. New Orleans is definitely a great place to add to your bucket list to get truly unique USA experiences. Read more about the oldest cities in the United States that have unique history and shaped the US in my blog post

Catch the Cubs game at Wrigley Field while taking down a Chicago-style hot dog

 the Bean or the Cloud Gate - USA Bucket List

If you are looking for uniquely American experiences, this is it. Even if you are not a baseball fan, at least once in your life you should experience this iconic place. It is synonymous with Chicago and a visit to the city would be incomplete, without a visit to Wrigley Field. Before the game, go see the reflection of the city in the Cloud Gate, or “the bean”. And after having a Chicago-style hot dog have a Chicago style pizza! After you do, let me know which one you liked more in the comments below! (or send me a message on Instagram)

Planning a trip? See more unique things to do in Chicago!

Go skiing in Aspen Highlands, Colorado

Aspen Highlands features extreme Colorado steeps. Think you are really, really good? Then go where the locals go to get humbled – Aspen Highlands. Wide-open runs, breathtaking views, plenty of beginner and intermediate runs, and hike-accessible terrain that is some of the steepest in the state. If you love adventurous and exciting holidays, Colorado has everything you need!

Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

The Mules Ascending from the bottom of the Grand Canyon USA Bucket List

Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is an amazing experience that is worth any USA bucket list. It does, however, require a good amount of physical training beforehand. The views are even more amazing from the bottom than they are from the top, and if you would like, you could take the mules up or down. And plan ahead, people reserve their lodging (and mules) up to 6 months in advance.

Try some BBQ ribs in Kansas City, Missouri

When in Kansas City, you’ll be surrounded by some of the best barbecue joints in the country so why not try one.. Or two? Among my favorites – Jack Stack and Stack BBQ.

And if you are in Kansas city for the BBQ, check out their WWII museum – it is phenomenal.

Walk the Walk of Fame in LA

Los Angeles is a vibrant city, full of art, history, and nature. Of course, many people go to L.A. for the movie and television culture that the area is most famous for. If you are in L.A., don’t miss the seeing the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood and the Guinness World Records Museum.

Go Gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip USA Bucket List

With a rich history of nearly a century of legalized gambling, Las Vegas is the mecca for casino players across the globe. The city contains more than 75 casinos, with most concentrated on Las Vegas Boulevard – more commonly known as the Strip. The Bellagio, the Caesars Palace, the Venetian – visit all of these when you are in Las Vegas. Maybe, you’ll bring some cash home!

Attend the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock desert, Nevada

Have you heard of the Burning Man Festival? If you have always wanted to go, do it! There is nothing like that! This year the Burning Man will take place from 26th of August to September 3rd. Participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary town in the middle of the desert dedicated to art and community. There you will find art installations, themed camps, music and a giant burning man at the end of the festival! You know, that’s the reason everyone is there!

Watch the fish fly at Pike Place Market and leave your “mark” on the Gum Wall in Seattle

Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is known for their tradition of fishmongers throwing fish that customers have purchased, before they are wrapped.

And, of course, see the gum wall (or touch?), it’s gross, but a must if you are in Seattle. And you can add to the art!

Spend a day wandering in NYC

Times Square in NYC USA Bucket List

Visit the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park and the Twin Towers Memorial. I actually did all of these in one day last time I visited. Yes, that is a lot of walking but it is doable. And, it’s amazing! My favorite parts of NYC – busy streets of Lower Manhattan, hearing different languages everywhere you go and NY-style pizza. It almost doesn’t feel like you are in the US, so you must go. When you are there, spend at least a day shopping in some of the most famous shopping areas in the US!

Get lost among giant sequoia trees in the Redwood National Park, California

Travel to Northern California’s stunning Redwood National Park and see the tallest trees in the world. You will feel like a tiny fairy (or gnome) as you stroll in the shadows of these enormous trees and explore rocky undeveloped beaches, fern studded canyons, open prairie and oak woodlands. 

See “the Heads” in Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

See the Heads of Mt Rushmore USA Bucket List

South Dakota is home the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, but nothing “stands out” quite like Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This project was created as a way to attract tourists to the state and, it worked! Mount Rushmore is now visited by nearly 3 million people annually! And yes, I hope you can see how excited I was from the photo above!

Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and see Alcatraz in San Francisco, California

Alcatraz San Francisco

Rent a bike and pedal your way over the world’s most famous bridges! The Golden Gate bridge is one of the most famous and beautiful bridges in the world because of its spectacular location, graceful lines, details, and bright color. With towers extending 746 feet into the sky and over 100 feet beneath the bay, the bridge is an engineering marvel. There are so many other beautiful locations in San Francisco and every single one of them is worth going to, read here about cool places and neighborhoods to see in San Francisco

Related: Travelling to San Francisco

Dive into Puerto Rico’s Bio-luminescent Bay

If there’s one thing you can’t miss during your vacation in Puerto Rico, it’s experiencing the glowing lagoon while kayaking or snorkeling. The bioluminescent bay in La Parguera is a natural phenomenon unlike any other. Sometimes called the ‘phosphorescent bay’, it is home to year-round luminescence and is one of only seven of it’s kind in the world.

Experience Saint Louis like a Local

Saint Louis Arch USA Bucket List

See a Cardinals baseball game, visit the Budweiser brewery and eat at Pappy’s Smokehouse in Saint Louis. Experience your day as recommended by a Saint Louis local and then go and take the picture with the Arch. (not so local, but worth it!) If you have more time, visit the Science Museum and the Zoo! (both free!!)

Watch the Northern Lights in Alaska

Last but not least on the the USA bucket list are the Northern Lights of Alaska. Northern Alaska is where many Americans head for the chance to see the northern lights. Spend some time above the Arctic Circle under the mysterious, eerie northern lights from mid-September to late April to witness the phenomenon of the aurora borealis.

Are you looking for more travel ideas in the United States, see the Oldest Cities to Visit in the US and Best Summer Vacations in the US!

USA Bucket List - Unique Places to Visit in America

Tell Me: How many of these have you done already and what’s next on your USA bucket list?

Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

50 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    April 4, 2018

    I’m from Australia and haven’t been the US yet so this is a great list for me! Thanks

    Reply
    1. Marina
      April 15, 2018

      That’s so great! I hope you will find it useful when you come to visit!

      Reply
  2. Nadalie Bardo
    April 4, 2018

    These are all great places to travel and see. I would love to explore the majority of these places as well.

    Reply
  3. AmberLynn
    April 4, 2018

    I’ve visited five of the locations on the list and completed only three of the items. However, this reminds me that there is still so much for me to do and see right here in America.

    Reply
  4. Michelle
    April 4, 2018

    I think sometimes we get so caught up in international travel that we totally forget about the treasures that are here in America. When I went to San Francisco I was so amazed at this city that is right in my “backyard” per se that I had never thought to go to.

    Lovely list! x

    Michelle
    dressingwithstyle-s.com

    Reply
  5. Daria
    April 5, 2018

    I moved to California from Europe, so many things on my bucket list. Most curious about New Orleans.

    Reply
  6. Luci
    April 5, 2018

    The only thing that I have done on this list is go to a Mardi Gras Festive because I live in New Orleans. There are a lot of places that I want to go visit, South Dakota is one of them.

    Reply
  7. Haley
    April 5, 2018

    I’ve done 3!!! I want to do them all, you’ve made a great list!

    Reply
  8. Great list! I have only done 2 of these and I live in the US! I could for sure add some fun things to this list, like ice skating outside in downtown Detroit. Or check out Mammoth Caves in Kentucky 🙂

    Reply
    1. Marina
      April 15, 2018

      Oh yes, I have been to the Mammoth Cave! It’s definitely worth adding to this list!

      Reply
  9. Lindsay
    April 5, 2018

    Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska and skiing/snowboarding in Colorado are two things I am DESPERATE to do. Love the balance of well-known and hidden-treasure-esque things to do 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  10. Davilyn
    April 5, 2018

    So many good ideas! I have some of those on my bucket list. ❤️

    Reply
  11. Kendra B
    April 5, 2018

    Great list! I love the unique ideas. I have only accomplished wandering around NYC, even though I have been to 5 of these cities!! Pinned for later! 🙂

    Kendra B.
    http://www.helga-marie.com

    Reply
    1. Marina
      April 15, 2018

      Thank you!

      Reply
  12. Vivian Evans
    April 5, 2018

    I’ve done only four of these. Ohh gee! I have more to go 😀

    Reply
  13. Jennifer
    April 5, 2018

    Awesome list! I have done 11 in some form, I will have to get on to finishing the rest!

    Reply
    1. Marina
      April 15, 2018

      That’s a lot! You are almost done! Then, it’s time to go abroad and see more if you ask me!

      Reply
  14. Megan
    April 5, 2018

    I’ve love seeing Broadway shows!! Of course, I don’t live in New York, but there’s a theater where I live and I’ve seen The Lion King (AMAZING) and Wicked (So good!). I actually did see Cinderella on Broadway in New York though and it was awesome. I also just visited Niagara Falls a few months ago and it was beautiful. Going to Alaska to see the northern lights is something that has been on my bucketlist for forever. I can’t wait until I get to go and hopefully that will be soon! Great post!

    Megan xx insidemegansmind.com

    Reply
    1. Marina
      April 15, 2018

      Wow! I actually haven’t been to the Niagara Falls yet, but I can’t wait to go!

      Reply
  15. Holli Shaw
    April 5, 2018

    A lot of these are def. on my list. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  16. Ingrid Joiya Warrick
    April 28, 2018

    Great list. Will start working on bucket list destinations next year. Anxious to look at these from the lens of a baby boomer.

    Reply
  17. Kailey Linton
    May 4, 2018

    This is a great bucket list! I would love to visit a lot of these places!

    Reply
  18. Kirsty
    May 21, 2018

    Yosemite is one of my favourite places on earth! I also love Arches and Bryce Canyon national parks. My next trip I plan to visit Badlands and some of the other remote quieter NPs. I really love USA! I try to visit at least every two years, I love to stop in small towns in between driving the parks on road trips. Also Zion NP is absolutely stunning … would love to hike through it one day.

    Reply
  19. Esmeralda
    September 7, 2018

    NYC is amazing, but can’t wait to go to Las Vegas

    Reply
  20. liam rocks
    September 19, 2018

    Thanks- for sharing the great post. The information is really noticeable especially info about Niagara Falls. I love to travel a lot, once again thanks a lot for sharing such a nice article, and please share another post very soon as I am waiting to read out another wonderful post so that I can update my travel list.

    Reply
  21. Jess
    October 4, 2018

    What a great list for people to use! Thanks for sharing:)

    Reply
  22. Alaina
    October 4, 2018

    Love it!! So many awesome recommendations:)

    Reply
  23. Kristen
    October 4, 2018

    There’s some great things on this list, I’ve been lucky to have checked off a few! Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing, but I got to run across it during a marathon! Wrigley Stadium is my favorite ballpark of all the ones I’ve visited, definitely the ultimate place to catch a game. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon get the high up view, but I agree that the best way to experience this natural landmark is from below!

    Reply
  24. Lindsey
    October 4, 2018

    These seem like such fun and beautiful places to visit! I think I’ll be adding a few to my bucket list travels.

    Reply
  25. chris
    November 29, 2018

    Beautiful blog :).

    Reply
  26. Jenny
    November 29, 2018

    I need to get busy with this list. I’ve only done five! And, unfortunately, they don’t let you dive into the biobay In Puerto Rico anymore for conservation purposes. My husband did as a kid, but I missed it. Very sad. Love this list.

    Reply
  27. Erin Morris
    November 29, 2018

    Nice list! I like to say I’ve done a lot of the USA, but your list makes me realise I have a lot to go. I’ve only got 10/20!

    Reply
  28. Emily
    November 29, 2018

    As an American who has lived in many different cities, it’s embarrassing how few of these I have done! But some good inspiration for the New Year. Love the variety!

    Reply
  29. Andrea LaPlant
    November 29, 2018

    Such a great post! I’ve only done less than a handful of these things and I am a traveler myself! I’ve been to NYC 2x and have yet to see a Broadway show. I need to do that the next time I am there!

    Reply
  30. Tori-Leigh
    November 29, 2018

    Love it! We have a see all 50 states bucket list that we’re more than 1/2 way through! It’s so fun!

    Reply
  31. Jerilyn Dowhower
    December 1, 2018

    Awesome site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

    Reply
  32. Niry
    October 9, 2019

    Yellowstone National Park is similar to the Great Geysir in southwestern Iceland. It was stunning! Would love to visit USA one day soon!

    Reply
  33. Christina
    October 9, 2019

    I live in the United States and still haven’t done eveything on this list. What a great synopsis of things to do!

    Reply
  34. Albi
    October 9, 2019

    I love your list. A lot of these were on my bucket list before, but a lot of them I will have to add

    Reply
  35. Bianca Malata
    October 10, 2019

    So many amazing places to visit in the US. Sadly I have yet to see any of these. Hopefully soon.

    Reply
  36. Nicole Hunter
    October 10, 2019

    What a fantastic list! I think that you have captured so many amazing experiences in the USA. I’ve done a ton of them which is so interesting because being from Canada, I don’t really think of them as being such important experiences. But when I see them listed like you have done, they are amazing things to do in the USA.

    Reply
  37. Courtney
    October 10, 2019

    Yay Chicago made the list!! Love your bucket list graphic and all your tips! Burning man is definitely on my list 🙂 great post! Keep it up <3

    Reply
  38. Albi
    October 11, 2019

    I love your bucket list, USA has so much to offer, personally, I’m really into the great canyon. It just looks so cool!

    Reply
  39. Kristina
    October 12, 2019

    I’ve been to the U.S twice now and there’s always something new to discover. On my last visit, we stayed at Las Vegas but didnt get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon. Will need to return soon

    Reply
  40. Akriti
    October 12, 2019

    This is the perfect bucket list for any tourist visiting the USA!

    Reply
  41. Jordan
    October 16, 2019

    I’m saving this for my trip to America next year!

    Reply
  42. MICHELLE MOYER
    November 14, 2019

    This is a great list!! I have only done 7 of them. I’ve never been to Alaska, Puerto Rico, or Washington, so I must add those to my list so that I can check off a bunch more of the bucket list items.

    Reply
    1. Marina
      November 30, 2019

      I love updating and adding on to my bucket list! The world is huge and there is so much to see!

      Reply
  43. Gina
    November 14, 2019

    Great ideas! Thanks!

    Reply
  44. Sandra Joseph
    November 14, 2019

    I live in the US and haven’t done one thing on your list. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply

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